Stephanie Pellitt, Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health -The House has passed the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act, a bill that could spur the development of a three-digit code (like 411 or 611) to act as a national suicide prevention hotline. The National Council for Behavioral Health and other bill supporters say a new three-digit code, specifically catered toward mental health crises, would help divert individuals from the unnecessary use of 911 emergency services.
After passing the House overwhelmingly, the bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
Specifically, the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs to study and report on the feasibility of designating a new three-digit dialing code. It would also require the three agencies to evaluate the effectiveness of the current hotline, 1-800-273-TALK. Some advocates believe a three-digit code would better help address the rising rates of suicide than the current hotline number. As New Jersey Congressman, Leonard Lance (R) explains, “We all know by heart to dial 9-1-1 during an emergency. We have faith and confidence that somebody who can help will be on the line. It shouldn’t be any different for someone in a mental health crisis.”
Having passed the House, it is now up to the Senate to show its support for the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act. You can help this bill become law by writing your Senators today. Take two minutes to urge your legislators to vote YES on H.R. 2345 here!